Iran

A decade of diplomacy, sanctions and nuclear brinkmanship involving Iran and the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (plus Germany) led to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This accord enshrined a core compromise that Crisis Group had advocated since 2003: acceptance of a limited, tightly monitored uranium enrichment program in Iran in return for that country’s reintegration into the global economy. Despite the JCPOA’s successful first years, the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018, putting it at risk of collapse while raising the danger of conflict between Tehran, Washington and their respective allies. Through field research and high-level advocacy, Crisis Group focuses on salvaging the JCPOA and preventing regional tensions from boiling over.

CrisisWatch Iran

Unchanged Situation

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed concern over growth and opacity of Iran’s nuclear activity, as regional tensions between Iran-backed groups and U.S. ebbed in Iraq and Syria but remained in Red Sea.

Nuclear watchdog, U.S. and European states spotlighted Iran’s nuclear program. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi 4 March told first Board of Governors meeting of 2024 “Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium continues to increase, even though level of uranium enriched to 60% has fallen slightly”, further noting that IAEA had “lost continuity of knowledge” on key components in nuclear infrastructure, and expressed frustration at lack of “progress in resolving the outstanding safeguards issues”. U.S. and E3 (UK, France and Germany) 6-7 March raised series of related concerns. U.S. intelligence community’s annual threat assessment 11 March asserted “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities necessary to produce a testable nuclear device”.

Anti-U.S. attacks largely halted in Iraq and Syria, Houthis continued strikes on shipping. Lull in attacks on U.S. forces by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria since early Feb appeared to largely hold in March, with exception of drone late March targeting U.S. forces in Syria, while Houthis in Yemen continued attacks in Red Sea/Gulf of Aden (see Iraq, Syria and Yemen). Amid tit-for-tat attacks between Iran-backed groups and Israel in Syria, Iran 26 March confirmed death of IRGC “military advisor” in Syria during alleged Israeli strikes. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctioned numerous Iranian/Iran-linked entities. Notably, U.S. 6 March designated four entities and vessels for their role in Qods Force-linked network supporting Houthis. U.S. 26 March sanctioned nine entities, individual and tankers for “facilitating commodity shipments and financial transactions for the IRGC-Qods Force, the Houthis and Hizbollah”. G7 statement 15 March warned “we are prepared to respond swiftly” were Iran to provide ballistic missiles to Russia, including “with new and significant measures”.

Elections saw record low turnout. Iran 1 March held elections for parliament and Assembly of Experts with 41% turnout, a record low for legislative races since 1979. Substantial vetting of candidates meant outcome was dominated by conservatives, who have tightened their grip over parliament and body to select Supreme Leader.

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In The News

2 tra 2024
In the same way that we hold Iran accountable for actions of its proxies ..., [the Iranian regime holds] the U.S. responsible for Israeli actions. Time

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
15 ožu 2024
Especially but certainly not exclusively over Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, tensions between the [Iran and the U.S.] remain significant. New York Times

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
6 ožu 2024
The overriding imperative for the Islamic republic [of Iran] is strengthening ideological conformity … even at the cost of losing even more of its legitimacy. RFERL

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
4 ožu 2024
The main concern about Iran’s nuclear activities is not about the visible, but the part that is no longer visible. Bloomberg

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
30 Jan 2024
While there is no political space in Washington for engagement with Iran in an election year, diplomacy is the only approach that has reined Iran in. France24

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
24 Jan 2024
Regaining an ally in Sudan, especially along the Red Sea, would be a major win for Iran but will spook other regional and Western powers. Al Arabiya

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa

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Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
Ali Vaez

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran

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